Sample Management Memo

To:       Managing Director

From:   Susan Kobilo

Subject: Conflict Resolution Plan

Dear Sir/Madam,

I would like to provide a plan on how the dispute that has arisen in the organisation can be solved. As you know, the sales force personal feel that they are working more than the hours requires by the Australian Fair Work Commission which is 35 hours per week. They are now giving us one month to reduce their work hours to that level; otherwise they may opt for a “work to rule” option. In this regard, I hereby provide dispute resolution mechanism that may help us deal with the issue I such a way that the employees can be satisfied and engaged at work, and minimize employee turnover as a result of the issue.

How the organisation Should Settle the Dispute

In the current industrial relations legislative environment, the organisation needs to develop a plan to resolve this issue in order to satisfy both the organisation and the employees. This plan explains how the organisation can go ahead to achieve this. First, we start with the desired outcomes of the parties (Forsyth, 2012). We then identify the negotiating strategy that the organisation may use, timeframes of the negotiations, and the best method that the organisation may use to advocate its position in the negotiation process to attain a favourable agreement for the organisation. The plan consists of the following sections:

Desired Negotiation Outcomes

The parties in this dispute are: the organisation and the employees. The employees want reduced number of working hours, better working conditions and sociable working hours excluding weekends. In this case, the employees want to get some time to rest in order to have clear minds and avoid burnouts. Indeed, employee engagement improves when the employees perceive that the management cares for their welfare. On the other hand, the organisation wants improved efficiency productivity from the employees.  The company’s nature of business does not allow it to stop business during the weekend or holidays because customers need to communicate throughout irrespective of holidays or weekends. Therefore, the organisation’s competitive edge is maintained by serving customers throughout. Therefore, in the end of the negotiation the organisation wants to retain its employees who can work even extra time, but still keep them satisfied and maintain employee engagement at the workplace to improve work efficiency and productivity.

Negotiating Strategy of the Organisation

The organisation’s strategy in the negotiation should enable the organisation to meet its legal obligation while at the same time achieving its organisational objectives. The organisation’s strategy should involve improving the employees’ engagement and articulating the organisation’s culture rather than focusing on rewards and compensation for employees (Forsyth, 2012). The organisation should use the best negotiators in the organisation to communicate the mission and vision of the organisation so that they can achieve the best outcome from the dispute resolution process. It is important in this stage to use negotiators with good leadership skills as key antecedents of employee engagement. The dispute resolution team should be good communicators, and trained adequately on good communication skills (Scott, 2015). The negotiating strategy should therefore involve communicating effectively about the vision and mission of the organisation in order to achieve the organisation’s culture (Scott, 2015). However, the organisations should also be ready to provide employees with welfare benefits in order to compensate for the extra hours they have to work, considering the nature of the business. For instance, those who work for long hours during the week should be given time to spend with their families during the weekend. Those who work during the weekend should work for a few shift hours so that they can get time with their families and have enough rest. These employees should then be given rotational shifts.

In order to comply with legal requirements, the organisation should consider giving a maximum of 35 hours per week. It is highly likely that this strategy will cause a gap in terms of workforce in order to serve customers effectively to achieve competitive advantage (Tidwell, 2006). During the negotiation, this should be explained clearly. Employees should understand that to fill this gap, the company may have to hire other employees and the business may incur more costs and may lead to losses. In the long run, this may cause the organisation to be unable to make profits. As part of articulating organisational structure, the organisation should communicate effectively to the employees about the need to meet the customer needs in order to increase customer satisfaction and sales, while at the same time minimizing costs in order enhance sustainable profit for the benefit of the entire organisation.

Dispute Resolution Process

The dispute should be resolved through an alternative dispute resolution process involving several steps that should obtain a favourable agreement for the organisation in an informal manner. The Fair Work Commission of Australia provides a good process of dispute resolution at the workplace so that both parties should be contended with the outcome of the negotiation (Fair Work Commission, 2015). In such a dispute, none of the parties will completely meet its desired outcomes, but a compromise position should be arrived at for the benefit of the entire organisation. However, the organisation should try its best to achieve the best outcome using the above strategies. The success of the strategies depends on the effectiveness of the organisation in advocating its position in the dispute resolution process.

The first step is to prepare for the negotiation by studying the situation in order to develop an appropriate negotiation strategy to convince the employees to accept the position of the organisation. At this stage, a good team of skillful leaders should be selected and trained shortly to face the challenge with adequate knowledge and understanding of the situation. The next step is to hold a meeting with all employees to listen to their grievances (Fazey, 2013). At this stage, the negotiators should listen carefully to the demands of the employees and avoid interrupting them when they are speaking. The organisation should then appreciate the employees’ concerns and state its position, explaining carefully and convincingly about the importance of good work relationship between the management and the staff (Stewart, 2013). It is important to let them understand that it is not enough to just perform the work, but it is necessary to supplement the hard work with engagement and commitment. The company should then explain its reasons for giving employees a lot of work, considering the benefits that the organisation in general gets from their contributions.

If negotiations fail, the organisation should seek the mediation of a neutral body such as labour unions, and organize for another meeting. The organisation may agree to reduce the working hours per employee to 35 hours per week as required by the law and reschedule tasks so that employees come in shifts, including nighttime and during the weekends and holidays. This may require the organisation to hire more staff.

  1. Specialist Advice

The organisation may need the advice of a specialist to enable it improve its negotiating position and reach an agreement with employees. Alternative dispute resolution can be achieved through Australian Government Agencies or any other neutral mediator or solicitor (Condliffe, 2007). Such mediators may provide advice about several issues including legal implications of the agreements made during the negotiation and other political or social implications with the government or the general public. This will enable the organisation to ensure that the agreement will put the organisation in a legal and justified position in the society; hence retaining the image of the organisation after the negotiation.

Specialists of labour and business issues should also be consulted for advice about the implications of the dispute resolution outcome on the profitability and competitive position of the organisation (Condliffe, 2007). This will enable the organisation to make agreements on that enhance profitability and strengthen the business position in the market rather than keeping it out of business due to adverse outcomes. Expert business consultants or advisors give the organisation good advice on the effects of its negotiation strategy on the overall organizational objectives of the organisation.

Documentation and Certification of the Agreement

In order to meet legal requirements, the organisation should document the agreement made with the employees. Furthermore, documentation is important because it allows the company to keep the agreement for future use. The organisation may need it in future when faced with a similar problem with employees (Forsyth, 2012). The documented outcome may also act as evidence in future. Certification also enhances the legality of the agreement and allows the company to gain a good public image through the certification.

The organisation should document the agreement by putting it down in paper, getting the signatures of employees, supervisors, the senior management and a witness. The written papers should then be entered into the company’s files and its electronic version should be stored in a computer database. To be certified, the company should apply for certification from a certification company in Australia. All required documents including the agreement and the company’s profile should be submitted to the certification company.

What Happens if Employees Fail to Abide by the Agreements?

As the managing director, I recommend a few ways to handle employees who will not abide by the agreement. There are several options including terminating the employment contract with them, go to court to seek intervention, or go to Fair Work Commission for further negotiations. The organisation should seek an option that suits its interests. For example, it is important to take the matter to Fair Work Commission for further negotiation so that the employee cannot feel that the company is being unfair to him or her. If the Fair Work Commission does not provide a solution, the organisation may terminate its contract with the employee and hire another employee under the same times. However, the employee should be informed about the consequences of not abiding by the settlement agreement.

The organisation may also form a committee to hold a meeting and discuss the issue with the employee. The team should remind the employee about the legality of the agreement and the importance of abiding by it in order to enhance good benefits for all parties. The peers may also be asked to talk with the employee and encourage him or her to abide by the agreement so that the company can fulfil its purpose.

How to Train Key Employees in Conflict Management and Dispute Resolution

Conflict or dispute resolution training should be provided by the company as part of its employee development and leadership training so that all employees understand the strategies and approaches needed to enhance effective dispute resolution techniques and procedures (Astor & Chinkin, 1992). The company should provide training related to communication skills, negotiation skills, listening skills, labour relations, and relationship management at the workplace. The organisation may also provide training on human resource policies and processes relevant to dispute resolution at the workplace. This allows employees to gain a lot of knowledge and skills concerning conflict and dispute resolution procedures and techniques for the benefit of the organisation.

The human resource manager should lead the training process which should involve planning, implementation and evaluation and monitoring. In this case, the HR manager develops a training plan by identifying the venue of training, the trainers, and other resources needed. He or she then sets a date and provides a schedule of activities during the training, and then communicates the date and time of training. During implementation, the training team should teach and train employees about the above issues by using theory, practical applications and illustrations. The training is then evaluated to determine its effectiveness. In this case, employees are asked about the lessons they have learned and tested with real dispute or conflict resolution scenarios to determine whether they can resolve issues.

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